Double trouble: big portions of calorie dense foods

October 13, 2003

Big portions encourage people to eat more but big portions of calorie dense food -- the kind Americans tend to grab on the run -- boost calorie consumption even higher without providing additional satisfaction, a new Penn State study has shown.

The study, the first to focus on the combined effects of both portion size and calorie density or the calories per ounce, showed that calorie density and portion size add together to affect caloric intake. Tanja Kral, doctoral candidate in nutritional sciences who conducted the study as part of her dissertation, says, "Even though the study participants consumed 221 fewer calories when offered a smaller meal of lower calorie density, they felt just as full and satisfied as when they had consumed a larger meal of higher calorie density."

Kral's dissertation adviser is Dr. Barbara Rolls, who holds the Guthrie Chair of Nutrition in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development. "The fact that the participants in this study didn't notice when they were given lower calorie density food offers evidence that the food industry could change their products to make them healthier without causing customer dissatisfaction," Rolls says. "Small reductions in the calorie density of foods will allow people to eat satisfying portions without consuming too many calories which, in turn, may help them with weight management."

Kral presented her results in a paper, "The Combined Effects of Energy Density and Portion Size on Food and Energy Intake in Women," today (Oct. 13) at the annual meeting of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Her co-authors are Liane Roe, research nutritionist, and Rolls. Kral is one of five finalists selected for the Ethan Sims Young Investigator Award to be announced at the meeting.

In the study, 39 normal weight and overweight women ate breakfast, lunch and dinner once a week for six weeks in Penn State's Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior. The breakfasts and dinners were standardized but the main entree at lunch was formulated to vary in calorie density as well as portion size.

The lunch entree was a pasta bake made from medium shells, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, onions, tomato sauce and parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta cheese. The calorie density was changed by varying the proportions of ingredients. The amount served was also varied from two cups to two and three-quarters cups to three and a half cups.

"Portion size alone increased calorie intake by 20 percent. Calorie density alone increased intake by 26 percent," Kral says. "Together, portion size and calorie density increased calorie intake by 56 percent." Rolls notes, " In practical terms, the study shows that big portions of high calorie foods put people at greater risk of overeating than big portions alone. If you like big portions, stick to water-rich foods that don't have too much fat. Other research in our laboratory has shown that big portions of a low-calorie salad as a first course can even help lower the total amount of calories you consume."
The study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Penn State

Related Calories Articles from Brightsurf:

Calories by the clock? Squeezing most of your calories in early doesn't impact weight loss
Time-restricted eating, which restricts eating to specific hours of the day, did not impact weight among overweight adults with prediabetes or diabetes.

Study pinpoints top sources of empty calories for children and teens
A new study of children and teens found that more than 25% of the calories they consume were considered empty -- those from added sugars and solid fats.

People with brown fat may burn 15% more calories
Short-term cold exposure may help people with brown fat burn 15% more calories than those without, according to a small study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Consuming extra calories can help exercising women avoid menstrual disorders
Exercising women who struggle to consume enough calories and have menstrual disorders can simply increase their food intake to recover their menstrual cycle, according to a study accepted for presentation at ENDO 2020, the Endocrine Society's annual meeting, and publication in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

People who eat a big breakfast may burn twice as many calories
Eating a big breakfast rather than a large dinner may prevent obesity and high blood sugar, according to new research published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Calories in popular UK restaurant chain dishes can be 'shockingly high' warn experts
The calorie content of popular starters, sides and desserts served in UK restaurant chains is too high and only a minority meet public health recommendations, finds a University of Liverpool study published in BMJ Open.

Monkeys like alcohol at low concentrations, but probably not due to the calories
Fruit-eating monkeys show a preference for concentrations of alcohol found in fermenting fruit, but do not seem to use alcohol as a source of supplementary calories, according to a study by researchers from Linköping University, Sweden, and the Universidad Veracruzana, Mexico.

Pregnant women with obesity may not require additional calories for healthy pregnancies
Guidelines for weight gain and caloric intake during pregnancy are not tailored to women with obesity, 2/3 of whom gain excessive weight during pregnancy that poses a risk to mother and child.

Exercising while restricting calories could be bad for bone health
UNC School of Medicine's Maya Styner, MD, led research showing that the combination of cutting calories and exercising can make bones smaller and more fragile in animals, whereas exercise on a full-calorie diet has a positive impact on bone health.

Even in svelte adults, cutting about 300 calories daily protects the heart
In adults already at a healthy weight or carrying just a few extra pounds, cutting around 300 calories a day significantly improved already good levels of cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and other markers.

Read More: Calories News and Calories Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to